When it comes to travelling on our South African roads, each of us has either experienced or witnessed a car accident. As more and more cars go onto the roads each year, this is an aspect of life that is becoming more a part of daily lives than we ever wanted.
What should you do if you witness an accident? What are the most important things to do? Should you get involved? These might seem like a simple enough questions; however, we delve a little deeper.
How to stay calm and collected
While you may not be trained like a paramedic, there are certain things that can be done if you happen to be first on the scene while waiting for emergency professionals to arrive:
- Pull your vehicle over:
- Make sure to park in a safe and secure area off the road, so you don’t obstruct traffic for place yourself or others in harm’s way.
- Be sure to put your hazard lights on, indicating an emergency and alerting emergency personnel to your visual location.
- If you have warning triangles, be sure to utilise them.
- Contact Emergency services:
- Ensure that emergency services are indeed on their way, contact your preferred emergency service such as Maponya911: 0861 960 960
- Call takers should also be able to provide you with more detailed advice as to what action to take based on the situation at hand; location, state of the injured, your own location.
- Assisting the injured:
- If you have a first aid kit, be sure to use the rubber gloves.
- Remain calm and reassure the affected that you have contacted emergency services and that help is on the way. (This may be the only thing you can do in some incidents).
- When helping an accident victim, you need to remember that safety is the most important part of helping, do not be a hero and jeopardise your own safety, your safety must come first.
- Do not move the accident victims unless there is an immediate risk to their lives. There may be an unseen injury that could be worsened if aggravated by movement.
- Check if the accident victim is conscious and breathing.
- If the accident victim is breathing, monitor them until emergency services arrive. Also, try keep them as calm as possible by asking them questions. Like, what is their name, where do they work, who must you call to let them know they are okay?
- If the accident victim is not breathing and you have been trained in CPR appropriately, you may begin CPR and rescue breathing as necessary.
- If the accident victim is bleeding, use available material: towel or gauze from the medical kit, blanket or shirt, and place it over the wound and apply pressure. Maintain the pressure until emergency services arrive. Do not stop applying pressure to further inspect the wound, as this may worsen the condition.
- If you have a cell phone on you, take as many photos of the accident scene as possible. This will help all parties involved by having enough information for insurance purposes. Also, remember if you witness the accident you will be required to go to the nearest police station and give them your statement.
One of the most important roles you may have, being first at the scene, is simply to monitor the condition of those injured or otherwise affected by an accident, your assistance and presence can mean all the difference to a victim and the ability for emergency personnel to assist them.
Consider your fellow drivers
When it comes to a road accident, where you are not directly involved, we as drivers are quick to dismiss the inconvenience or the irritation of the traffic that is more than likely building up because of the accident. Again remain calm, and be patient!